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Professor Mahama Duwiejua, Executive Director, National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), has observed that access to tertiary education in Ghana was still elitist.
He explained that access to tertiary education in Ghana, as measured by the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), is about 12 per cent, and this translates to a total enrolment figure ranging between 280,000 and 300,000.
“This figure is certainly too low for our status as a middle-income country, if we are to move beyond our lower middle-income status, we have to double the enrolment figures to be able to produce the skilled manpower needs of the country,” he said.
Prof Duwiejua made the observation on Saturday in Accra when he spoke at the maiden Baraka Policy Institute (BPI) education seminar on the theme: “Education in Ghana: Access, Quality and Relevance in the Context of National Development”.
He noted that access to education, and for that matter, access to tertiary education, should never be viewed as a luxury since the country’s survival as humans capable of adapting to emerging challenges and abilities to compete globally depended on it.
The Executive Director stressed that the importance of higher education, especially for African countries, could not be overemphasized, as the 1997 Report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the state of education in Africa described higher education, “as being to the education system what the head is to the body.”
According to Prof Duwiejua, the Ghana shared growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) aims at transforming the economy through industrialization, especially manufacturing, based on modernized agriculture and sustainable exploitation of the country’s natural resources, and the goals can only be met through equity, relevance and quality.
He, however, called for the usage of appropriate knowledgeable, skilled and trained persons in helping to transform the country’s economy, saying, “This noble aspiration will remain an intention on paper if we do not have the critical mass of trained people mostly from higher education institutions with appropriate knowledge and skills to transform the economy,”
“These are the people who can lead the technological transformation and economic development, we cannot develop by depending on sale of raw cocoa, beans, timber, minerals and now oil- knowledge drives economic growth,” he said.
Mr Salem Kalmoni, President, BPI, explained that BPI is an independent Think Tank with special focus on promoting social justice and national development through advocacy and research.
He said BPI’s core areas of advocacy are education, with emphasis on access, quality and relevance, as well as the promotion of the overall well-being of the vulnerable and marginalized segments of the Ghanaian society.
“As part of our core operational activities, we are organizing this seminar to bring into focus some new perspectives on issues relating to the theme of the seminar where follow-ups will be made extensively with a report submitted to heads of the educational sector in the country, for effective measures to be taken towards our educational circle.”
Other speakers expressed worry about the huge waste the country’s intellectual and human capacities had drifted from where it was supposed to be.
Participants lauded BPI for the transformational initiative and called for transparent affirmative action policies that would make education a better benchmark for the country’s development.
They also challenged government and other stakeholders of the educational sector, to accurately support rural areas, involve the physically challenged in policy making for adequate empowerment, and the provision of material, as well as other logistics to less developed schools for the national cake to be enjoyed extensively and boost education.
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